Duke Energy opts for commercial mobile networks to provide smart-grid connectivity

Duke Energy has released an ambitious plan to use cellular connectivity for its smart-grid deployment rather than building its own solution.

The energy giant, which serves 4 million customers in five states, plans to spend $1 billion for what it calls "digital grid technologies" and is leveraging multiple wireless networks. In a white paper explaining the deployment, Duke Energy Technology Development Manager David Masters said the company has worked with multiple carriers to address reliability and security--factors most cited when it comes to determining the viability of partnering with mobile operators.

Masters noted that the operators have established "private, not Internet routable IP networks" and developed an "innovative pricing and operations and maintenance (O&M) model" that meets Duke Energy's requirements and reduces overall communications costs.

Mobile network connectivity will be used for the wide area network portion of Duke Energy's smart-grid network, connecting local communications nodes to the enterprise data center and back office. The network will also leverage other connectivity solutions such as Wi-Fi mesh to connect end points such as sensors.

Masters said the benefits Duke Energy will gain from leveraging mobile networks include the fact that "utilities will have a greater influence on technology and price as a customer of the larger carriers than if we are developing private communications equipment for ourselves only."

For more:
- see this Connected Planet article

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AT&T moves deeper into smart-grid market with applications partnership
Cisco lands carrier deals, kills home energy console
Smart grid's daunting logistics tamed (somewhat) by smart cities concept

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